One blogger who follows Internet policy and governance wrote that “the Internet has claimed its first organizational scalp subjecting the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to a humiliating failure.”
According to the Washington Post
, the U.S. fears a section allowing governments to regulate spam could be used to monitor and silence dissidents and others under the auspices of U.N. approval.
A BBC report
says the tipping point at the conference came when conference chair asked for a vote on a change to the treaty preamble recognizing the right of access of ITU member countries to international telecom services. That was seen by some countries as a way to extend regulations to Internet governance.
The ITU has said issues would be decided by consensus and not votes at the conference.
The conference ended Friday with ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré calling the signing of the treaty by most countries a “momentous occasion and historic opportunity to bring connectivity to the two thirds of the world’s people who are still offline.”
The conference is run by the ITU, an arm of the United Nations and is dealing with international telecommunications regulations (ITRs) that are generally technical – like allocating radio spectrum.
The WCIT was called to update the ITRs, which haven’t been changed in two decades. However, observers believed that some countries wanted to use the conference to give the ITU some control over the Internet, which is largely overseen by independent organizations like ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Society, or to pass regulations justifying national control over it.
For that reason, Canada, the U.S. and other countries tried to keep anything that would link to the Internet out of any new wording. In their opinion they failed.
But ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré suggested Canada and other countries objecting to some of the language are making too much of very little.
“I have been saying in the run up to this conference that this conference is not about governing the Internet,” he said in a statement. “I repeat that the conference did not include provisions on the Internet in the treaty text.